Happy 127!

[Nearly all the posts in this blog have a previous life as articles in my local magazine. This one is more specific about it than most]

I’m not a big one for anniversaries, New Year’s Day and the various other constructs of passing time. Technically I am supposed to be clued in to such things, but my personal temperament is rather more inclined to living in the moment and I frequently don’t notice the oncoming bus of calendrical commemoration until it’s too late to do anything other than leap out the way and watch it rush by with it’s party of passengers.

This is my 127th Folk Tales Corner. An extremely arbitrary number, whose only real value is it clearly indicates that some time last year we passed the point which theoretically marked a decade of you reading my assorted ramblings, and I just want to thank you for doing so.

It has been an interesting journey. The first couple of articles were produced by me chatting through thoughts about folktales while Jo typed notes. I re-worked the results to give it my own voice and handed it back for a last sub edit before sending it off to Keith [Editor]. Bit by bit I took over the whole writing process but without that initial speaking-and-notes approach I would probably still be staring at that first blank screen. You see, I have dysgraphia.

Dysgraphia is often described as a problem with ‘fine motor control’. When people with dysgraphia write with a pen our hands suffer a kind of mini dyspraxia, resulting in sharp and jagged letters with random height, width, spacing and base line. We also tend to mix lower case and capitals, struggle with spelling, punctuate randomly and squeeze words up because we haven’t left enough space. Our handwriting looks like a spider has crawled through an ink well and tried to breakdance on the page. It’s one of the branches of neurodiversity alongside dyslexia, autism and ADHD.

I have written here before about my struggles with procrastination, this is how a fair amount of it started. At school I was given a hard time over my hand writing by both pupils and teachers so I developed a fear of anyone seeing my writing. Starting to write, for any reason, became difficult. I would stare at a blank sheet of paper unable to begin. Unwilling to desecrate it’s purity, to pollute it’s virgin whiteness with the snaggle-toothed goblin hordes of my malformed griffonage.

Working on a computer gets around most of the mechanical problems of dysgraphia. Having a deadline, an audience and a hard copy (proof read and corrected by the excellent Messenger staff) every month has been a very persuasive stimulus to get over myself and type. The experience of pulling the threads of my thoughts out and trapping them in (hopefully) coherent paragraphs, has been transformative for both my understanding of the material and my craft, oh, and myself. The freedom that you have all permitted me to examine folklore from a variety of angles, explore my understanding of performance and digress in to creative writing has been a privilege. Re-discovering a joy in composing with the written word that was bullied out of me in my early teens has been a gift.

So thank you Morchard Bishop [and you internet reader]. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement over the last decade and a bit. Thank you taking the time to engage with the various peculiar worlds I wander you in and out of. Thank you for your patience with my stylistic experimentations. I hope you have enjoyed it and will continue to do so. Happy 127th!

…here’s to living happily ever after, until the next adventure.


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